Atomic Boy (real name John "Johnny" Winston) is a scientist and adventurer, employed by UNTIL and stationed on one of their moonbases. A boy genius who can generate large amounts of radioactive thermonuclear energy, manipulating it for a variety of purposes. He is currently a member of the Ultimate Guardians.
Johnny Winston was born to Robert and Marianne Winston in what used to be Detroit, but is now Millennium City. His father was a brilliant nuclear physicist who worked on the government's clandestine Project Sunburst, a program that attempted to find ways to make soldiers immune or resistant to the effects of radiation.
As a boy, Johnny took an early interest in both science and science fiction, in love with textbooks just as much as comic books. Because of this he developed into something of a social outcast and spent most of his high school days as nothing more than a lonely introverted geek.
His relationship with his parents, especially his father was often strained. Dr. Winston was often annoyed with his son's preoccupation with comic books, superheroes and fantasy. He felt that they were nothing more than meaningless distractions holding him back from achieving greatness. Johnny continued to excel in his studies, but for the most part, kept his love of comics and fantastic things secret from his father. His mother Marianne, a concert cellist instead encouraged Johnny's creativity. This became a point of contention between the two parents. When Johnny was fourteen, his mother bought him his first guitar and paid for lessons, much to the dismay of Johnny's father.
Shortly after Johnny's sixteenth birthday his father was diagnosed with cancer and became extremely ill over the following year. He passed away shortly before Johnny's seventeenth birthday and despite their strained relationship, he vowed to fulfill his father's vision for him and become a great scientist.
Since Johnny had few friends in school, he spent most of his time in the woods outside of his suburban community, playing the guitar, reading comics and trying out different types of "weather experiments".
After completing one of his weather experiments in the woods one evening, Johnny started to ride his bike back home when he noticed something peculiar out of the corner of his eye. He found a strange silver cylinder emitting a strange greenish glow. Indulging his sense of adventure (and scientific curiosity), Johnny took the cylinder and proceeded to ride off towards his house so that he could study it.
Unfortunately, his path was suddenly blocked by soldiers in hazmat suits. Panicking, Johnny turned tail and rode off as quickly as he could. Although he surmised that he was actually contaminated by radiation at that point, he rode off anyways. He looked back to see if the men were still following him and without his eyes on the path ahead, he unwittingly rode off a cliff and into a ravine.
He lay there at the bottom of the ravine, broken and probably dying with the cylinder still clutched in his hand. Suddenly, the cylinder began to beep loudly and a second later it exploded. Johnny's body was atomized, but then amazingly reformed, absorbing the radiation and transforming him. He now found he could control vast amounts of radioactive green energy.
Still not fully in control of his powers, he was captured by the military and taken to a secure facility where he was detained and quarantined. While he was being questioned he began to realize the potential of his abilities. Childhood superhero fantasies came bubbling to mind and Johnny freed himself from the military's detainment, flying off to pursue his new destiny.
After proving himself during the Qualar invasion, the government no longer considered Johnny a threat and offered him the chance to register as an official superhero. Although, since then he has suspected that they are still keeping a close eye on him. To this day he still has not discovered what the device was that gave him his powers or what the military planned to do with it.
After nearly a year of fighting crime on his own with a rough, homemade costume, while also balancing a busy college schedule, Johnny's exploits culminated with his involvement in fighting back the invading forces of the Qualar. Now a registered hero, Johnny decided to apply to a superhero group for the sake of structure and guidance. He had heard about the Guardians many times before and applied directly at the Guardians' Tower. He was accepted shortly thereafter and moved into the Tower. He was given the means to design and produce a new costume and joined the team on numerous missions all over the world.
Johnny was placed in charge of the Guardians' Tower lab, where he continued to experiment on himself. To this day he still fears that his powers may become too powerful for him to control and become a danger to everyone around him. He is constantly designing new costumes and equipment to help regulate his ever expanding abilities.
NeutronusDuring one of the Guardians' battles with the evil god Kigatilik, a tear in time and space was opened to the parallel dimension Multifaria. In this reality, Johnny Winston had followed a different path. Instead of becoming the hero known as Atomic Boy, he became a genocidal tyrant who called himself Neutronus. Neutronus found he shared a psychic link with Atomic Boy and at first appeared to him in a series of reoccuring "nightmares". In these nightmares he gave Johnny a glimpse of the destruction they could both create should they decide to combine their considerable powers. The nightmares always ended with Johnny refusing and then slowly and ironically succumbing to radiation sickness. Johnny dismissed the nightmares as a subconcious warning about the deadly nature of his powers and the ever looming fear of being corrupted by them.
Unfortunately, Johnny soon learned that his nemesis was in fact real and clashed with him several times. Neutronus still tried his hand at corrupting Johnny, still appearing in his dreams and thoughts, however Johnny was able to resist. Neutronus then set in motion a plan to either corrupt or destroy his alternate self...and quite possibly the rest of Millennium City.
While travelling to a bus station to visit his mother in the suburbs outside of Millennium City, Johnny was abducted. The bus station was destroyed, killing several people and injuring several more. Security and eye witness footage showed a figure fleeing the scene engulfed in green flames. Atomic Boy was officially branded a criminal and a city wide manhunt ensued. Shortly thereafter, Neutronus contacted the Guardians and demanded that they collect components for him for a "project" or he would turn Johnny over to the authorities. The team refused to give into the villain's demands and in retaliation, Neutronus implanted a "gravity bomb" into Johnny's abdomen and hid his barely conscious body somewhere in the city. Several Guardians, including Hocus Pocus, Luminaire and Little Devil scowered the city until finding Johnny on a rooftop. Neutronus warned that if they tampered with the bomb he would detonate it, turning Johnny into a singularity which would swallow the city...and quite possibly the rest of the planet. In order to circumvent the psychic link between Johnny and Neutronus, Little Devil knocked Johnny unconscious while Luminaire and Helios surgically removed and disabled the bomb. Seemingly defeated, the villain went silent and Johnny went into hiding.
Sometime later, with the help of Tachyon Silver, Johnny was able to acquire traffic camera footage of himself blocks away from the bus station bombing. However, since he was in his civilian guise at the time, Johnny was forced to reveal his secret identity to the world in order to prove his innocence. Since then, Johnny can't help but constantly look over his shoulder all of his enemies now know his true identity...something he fears was part of Neutronus' plan all along.
In the weeks since the initial conflict with Neutronus, Johnny had been spending more and more time in the lab experimenting on himself in an attempt to better understand and control his exponetial abilities. He found that his body could absorb radiation just as well as generate it and was curious to see what kind of effects large amounts of radiation would have on his mind and body. Over the course of a month, Johnny regularly exposed himself to larger and larger "doses" of radiation. At first he noticed that his abilities had increased in strength and potency, but as time went on he also noticed some changes to his personality as well.
After the final largest dose, Johnny found that he could no longer control the deadly amount of radiation that his body produced and was forced to wear a full containment suit. His personality had also seemingly changed as he became more detached and distant. He began to believe that he was destined for more than simply "fighting crime", believing the expansion of his abilities was the product of "fate". He began to experience what he described as a state of "quantum flux", claiming he could now experience his existence on several planes of existence simultaneously. This supposedly afforded him visions of other realities and parallel worlds...an experience that threatened the very fabric of his sanity.
Believing that he was slowly losing control of his powers and that a catastrophic meltdown was inevitable, Johnny contacted his fellow Guardians and asked that they help him recreate the accident that gave him his abilities in an attempt to "reset" his nuclear physiology. Using resources provided by Alexander Harper (Spirit Shield), Elysion was able to program a small craft to launch a small nuclear device into the upper atmosphere where Johnny would met it head on. If Johnny was able to reform his body (just as he did the first time he was caught in a similar blast) then the craft would retrieve him. If he did not reform, Hocus Pocus was to capture his essence through magic and bind it to an object (in this case, a sword) until another answer could be found and Johnny could be restored to his former self.
Johnny met the nuke head on and was atomized just as before...but did not reform. Only part of his essence was captured and bound to the magical sword. With a fragment of his soul seemingly lost, Johnny was presumed deceased.
It was later revealed that the missing fragment of Johnny's consciousness had in fact been captured by the evil god Kigatilik in a glowing, magical purple crystal. Johnny's nemesis, Neutronus had made a deal with Kigatilik to capture Johnny's soul in exchange for a chance at revenge against the Guardians. Originally, the plan was to lure the Guardians to Canada, but Neutronus devised what he thought was a better plan.
Using data he acquired from the portal that allowed him to travel to our dimension, Neutronus built an elaborate teleportation device. The device created a portal leading directly from Kigatilik's lair in Canada to Guardians' Tower. Being for all intents and purposes genetically identical to Atomic Boy, Neutronus was able to confuse the tower's AI, the supercomputer VIOLET, long enough to allow throngs of ice demons to invade the tower. Tower defenses were raised, locking Kigatilik out, but his minions had already flooded inside.
A group of Guardians that had been at the tower at the time, including the Guardians' commander Steelguard, fought back the scourge of demons, fighting their way to the lobby. There, Shadowstalker took on the evil Atomic Boy and was able to retrieve the crystal and store it away in Steelguard's office. While the remaining Guardians took on Kigatilik himself, a strange thing took place unbeknownst to the group. Hocus Pocus had left her sword with Johnny's essence in Steelguard's office and now suddenly in close proximity to the remaining fragment, the pieces of his consciousness were magically merged back together.
Johnny was able to reform, just as he did the first time he was caught in a nuclear blast, and help his teammates fight back Kigatilik and the last of his demons. Neutronus was defeated and imprisoned within the tower.
Johnny's memories of the time while he was "deceased" are sketchy and often unsettling. He htried his best to resume his duties as a member of the Guardians while still coping with the traumatic events that lead to his "demise" and "rebirth".
The Fall of Guardians Tower
Feeling his lack of visibility diminished his effectiveness as a leader, Steelguard asked Johnny to step up and assume leadership of the Guardians. Johnny reluctantly agreed and quickly found the burden of being leader of one of the world's largest supergroups far too large a responsibility for a then nineteen year old adventurer. He found himself spending less time with his girlfriend at the time and on his other projects and scientific pursuits.
Johnny scheduled a meeting with the other officers to discuss possibly stepping down as leader. Shortly before that meeting, Johnny was in the tower's sub-basement working on server maintenance. The tower's AI, VIOLET (which unbeknownst to Johnny had been infected with a VIPER virus) appeared to him and cryptically apologized. He was then doused with an unknown chemical agent that simultaneously neutralized his powers and rendered him unconscious. When he awoke he found himself a prisoner of VIPER.
After weeks of experimentation and torture at the hands of his captors, Johnny was liberated by a team of UNTIL operatives. He spent weeks in recovery at an UNTIL facility, his powers still gone and his memories of his time as a prisoner fuzzy at best. It was during this time that he was told that VIOLET had been infected with a virus, turned the tower's defenses against the Guardians and allowed VIPER to stage a full on offensive. The tower had been destroyed...countless lives lost. Johnny had been counted among the casualties.
Feeling a great deal of regret and shame over such an incident happening while Johnny was technically leader, he initially opted to keep his survival a secret and took up a position in UNTIL's science division. His powers slowly returned over time, but he decided not to resume the guise of Atomic Boy and instead chose to continue on as merely a scientist. During an expedition with UNTIL operatives into Canada, however, Johnny ran into several former teammates (including his former girlfriend Mara) who had reformed the Guardians. Although they were relieved to see him alive, Mara could not forgive Johnny for not telling her that he was alive, having grieved his apparent "death". They subsequently drifted apart.
Red and Blue
Refocusing on his position with UNTIL, Johnny was assigned a position on an UNTIL moonbase to become custodian of a stockpile of decommissioned nuclear missiles. In addition he was to study a series of mineral deposits on the dark side of the moon that could possibly be used for fuels in a new generator system. One of Johnny's colleagues, a geneticist named Gregory Halliwell, who had been vying for the moonbase position became infuriated that his years of hard work had been ignored in favor of a "kid" with a "superhero reputation". He vowed revenge.
Halliwell gained access to a pair of super-powered teenage twins who had been imprisoned in a remote research facility for "dangerous mutant children". Using Johnny's DNA in an attempt to amplify their abilities he codenamed his new instruments of destruction "Atomic Red" and "Atomic Blue". After months of gene therapy, he sent the twins on a mission to wreak havoc on UNTIL headquarters and destroy Atomic Boy. The twins however relented, not wanting to be used merely as weapons for revenge and turned Halliwell over to the authorities. The gene therapy had seemingly wiped the twins' memories of their former lives and Halliwell had convinced them (and everyone else) that they were actually clones of Atomic Boy. Johnny felt a sense of responsibility towards the twins and spoke up in their favor, offering to take them in and keep watch over them. His UNTIL employers reluctantly agreed...although still deciding to keep a close eye on them.
Since Johnny was now living on the moon, he set the twins up in his former brownstone in Millennium City. Atomic Red, wanting to become a hero, applied to the Guardians while his sister Zooey, Atomic Blue remained mostly at home and seemingly introverted.
Atomic Boy possesses the ability to generate large amounts of green thermonuclear energy which he can control at will for a variety of purposes. He can fire beams of heat energy, create localized explosions, emit blasts of kinetic force and sheathe himself in energy allowing him to fly. He can also create a kinetic energy barrier to protect himself from harm, regenerate damaged tissue at an accelerated rate, create force fields around himself or others and teleport varying distances (depending on the amount of concentration and energy he is able to expend).
All of his powers are often unpredictable and unstable. On more than one occasion he has teleported unexpectedly several miles from where he was standing and has accidentally incinerated more than a few pieces of furniture and clothing.
Because of his constant struggle with controlling his abilities, he tends to play up his civilian persona as a nerdy, introverted kid as a way of distancing himself from others. The confidence he exudes while in his superhero guise is something he often has trouble transposing to his civilian identity as well.
In addition to his physical abilities, Johnny's already considerable intellect has been "super-charged" as well. He often finds that he is able to complete complex equations in record time and has shown a great aptitude towards learning other fields of science outside his chosen course of study.
While in his civilian identity, Johnny is currently working towards a doctorate in physics and had already given lectures and published research at the age of eighteen. He plays the guitar and has always secretly dreamed of starting a punk rock band. He was briefly able to realize that dream with the formation of his band "In the Dark", featuring fellow Guardians Bolt Thrower (lead guitar), Orga'al (bass), R'Salla (drums) and Little Devil (vocals). For a time he shared a brownstone near the city center in Millennium City with his former girlfriend Mara (otherwise known as Little Devil). Because he spent most of his life being treated like an outcast, Johnny is very accepting of those who are "different", a fact that helped build a foundation for his relationship with Mara. Their relationship dissolved however after Johnny chose to keep his survival of the tower incident a secret.
Reuniting with his former teammate and fellow Guardians officer Hocus Pocus, Johnny offered her a place to stay on the moon with him. She naturally took it upon herself to redecorate the dreary, clinical looking moon lab with style and accents of pink. In order to convince his UNTIL superiors to let Hocus stay with him, he had told them that they were actually married and that she could be his research assistant. Over the course of living together their friendship has slowly blossomed into romance.
As Atomic Boy, Johnny can be impulsive, cocky and quick with a witty comeback. However, his overconfidence can lead to some poor judgment. His insatiable scientific curiosity is also both a boon and detriment. On more than one occasion he has put himself in danger because of his distraction with some sort of fantastic phenomenon or piece of technology.
Johnny is also still very much a geek. He collects comics, action figures and all manner of "nerd paraphernalia" that he has used to decorate his room at the Guardians' Tower. He often quotes movies and TV shows and constantly tries to "out" other geeks within the group.